Statutory Word Lists

By the end of each year in Primary school, children are expected to be able to spell a set of words. These are often commonly used words and words that the children will naturally be wanting to use as they write. Although the word lists are set for year groups to learn, sometimes children need a little longer to practice and learn every word on the lists, and may not be ready to move onto the words for their year group. This is OK. Practicing the words that your child has difficulty with, will help them to learn to spell them, irrespective of their age or the list the word comes from. Dipping in and out of the spelling lists will be really beneficial for lots of different children.

Statutory Word Lists …. Year 1Year 2Year 3/4Year 5/6

If your child struggles to learn these words, then learning the words in groups that have something similar about them may help.

Statutory Word Lists (grouped by spelling pattern) Lower KS2 Word List

Upper KS2 Word List

Spelling Frame Website - a range of games at all levels

Using some of the ‘Alternative Spelling Strategies’ listed below, and the Precision Teach method on the ‘Working Memory’ page may also help.

Alternative Spelling Strategies

After learning the basic phonic sounds, and using them to read, children will start to use their phonic knowledge to help them spell. However, children who find phonics difficult to master, will often find spelling with phonics particularly challenging. For these children, alternative methods for spelling may be more helpful.

There are a range of different ways in which we can learn to spell and using phonics is just one of them. Here are a few examples of ways in which children can learn to spell, especially when phonics is not working for them.

Alternative spelling strategies poster

Oxford Owl Website - General Spelling Support

Phonic visual prompt rainbow mat - used to support a child as they spell.


#1 Mnemonics

These are little phrases (often silly to make them memorable!) that use each letter in a word.

For example; because …

Big Elephants Can Always Upset Small Elephants … the silly phrase is made by words starting with each letter of the word we want to learn … B for Big, E for Elephant, C for Can etc.

When we remember the silly phrase, we remember the sequence of letters needed to spell the word.

Mnemonics posters … Set 1 Set 2

#2 Words within Words

Some words have other, smaller words hidden inside them, and spotting these can help children to remember them as they spell.

For example:

together … hidden inside are the words: to, get and her

once … hidden inside is the word on

You could play ‘Spot the word’ games …

  • Be a ‘Little Word Detective’ and see who can be the quickest at spotting the hidden words in a word list.
  • Colour in the hidden words to highlight them

#3 Syllable chunking

Sometimes breaking a longer word up into smaller easier to remember and spell chunks, can help children. Breaking a word into syllables involves recognising how we naturally pronounce words and emphasise certain parts. Syllables will always contain a vowel or ‘y’ acting as a vowel sound.

To find syllable breaks children can imagine drumming out the rhythm or pattern of a word as they say it, clap the natural pattern of the word or count the ‘chin bumps’ as they say a word (Holding their had as a fist just below but not touching their chin. As they speak, their chin will hit their hand for each syllable chunk).

#4 Rhythm Spelling (using syllables)

It is thought that practicing feeling a rhythm or beat in music can help children to find the rhythm of words too, and in doing so help them to take more notice of each part of a word as they spell. Encouraging children to clap to a piece of rhythmic music, play on some bongos or a drum, or play on pretend drums - hitting hands on knees or the table - are all ways in which you can help your child’s sense of rhythm develop.

Example of rhythmic music to support rhythm development

Saying words they are learning and beating out a rhythm for each can then help them as they spell.

Research has shown that this is a particularly successful strategy to help children with Dyslexic tendencies to spell. Having a drum beat, beating out the pattern on the desk, or having a metronome giving a steady pulse or beat as they spell, can help children think about each syllable in a word, and in doing so improve spelling accuracy.

Metronome beats fast medium slow

#5 Silly Talk

This strategy involves saying a word incorrectly in order to emphasise parts of a word that are often forgotten we spell. It might help children remember a silent letter, or a letter they frequently get wrong or miss in the word, or the order of letters which can often be muddled.

Examples include:

Scissors - said as S-K-ISSORS … to remember the silent ‘c’ after the ‘s’

Science - said as S-K-I (eye) - ENCE … to remember the silent ‘c’ after the ‘s’

People - PEE-OP-LE … to remember the ‘e’ come before an ‘o’ which you can’t hear.

Beautiful - BEE - A - YOU - TI - FULL … to remember the order of the first letters b-e-a-u

Separate - SEP-ARRR - ATE … to remember it is ‘ar’ and not ‘er’